My New Kentucky Home
by Paris Permenter & John Bigley

Many Northeast travelers know busy I-75 as the north-south corridor that winds its way to sunny Florida. What many of those vacationers may not know is that this famous highway travels through the town of Williamsburg. No, not Williamsburg, Virginia, but a far quieter getaway with a true country atmosphere: Williamsburg, Kentucky.

Nicknamed the “Gateway to the Cumberlands,” this small town is an easy stop for travelers on I-75. Just seconds from the highways stands a property well known among romantic travelers: the Cumberland Inn (800-315-0286,

Operated by Cumberland College and largely staffed by students, the brick inn stands in regal colonial style. Five suites are a favorite with lovers, who often pick the inn’s expansive foyer as a wedding site.

Beneath a painted dome, brides can make their entrance down the grand staircase, which has also served as the backdrop for many wedding photos. About 18 couples a year make the foyer a setting for their wedding, witnessed by as many as 250 family and friends in the white-tiled setting.

Cumberland Inn Cumberland Inn, lobby

Steps away from the foyer, the inn’s Athenaeum Restaurant is a favorite for receptions. Filled with leather bound books, the quiet atmosphere of the restaurant is also an excellent choice for a romantic dinner. Located in a dry county, the inn does not serve alcohol and no alcohol is permitted at the inn. Many wedding receptions opt for local favorite dishes such as the Kentucky Hot Brown, an entree which originated in Louisville, centered around the Kentucky Derby.

Along with foyer weddings, the inn also offers a conference center for up to 200 wedding guests. Weddings at the Cumberland Inn often involve “open invitations,” a Kentucky custom that, with an announcement in the local newspaper, invites anyone in the community to attend the wedding and the reception. With that welcoming spirit, many of the couples opt to keep the lobby open during their ceremony while others choose to have the space closed to the public.

The inn has grown in popularity as a romantic destination with travelers. “We’re finding people are looking for a rural experience--a flight to safety,” notes General Manager Steve Morris. “This is a very down to earth community.”

From Williamsburg, couples can explore the region including the Cumberland Falls State Resort Park, home to the falls called “the Niagara Falls of the South,” the historic coal mining towns near Stearns, or the houseboating options and state resort parks which make the perfect summer getaway.

For more on Williamsburg, Kentucky:

  • contact the Southern and Eastern Kentucky Tourism Development Association,, 877-TOUR-SEKY.

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